Off the ledge
Having finally come to terms with my decision to wean, I'm now impatient for this all to be over, so I can put this whole breastfeeding clusterfuck behind me and move on with my life. A few things have helped me deal (besides your comments, of course). First, realizing that a lot of the mixed emotions I was feeling about stopping pumping actually had to do with mourning the loss of nursing--my (our) inability to nurse is a loss that will stay with me for a while. I really did love nursing, when it wasn't a tear-filled battle--the few times Bat Girl really truly nursed with me are some of my tenderest memories, and I know that if she had nursed more effectively, I would have wanted to keep pumping at work to try to preserve that connection at home. I'm sure I'll find peace with it someday, just as I've come a long way toward healing from the emotional scars of bed rest, just as I've completely accepted having had a c-section. (Being at peace with not being able to nurse is different from being at peace with not giving her breast milk anymore, which I'm dealing with by spending a small fortune on organic formula.)
Second, I realized that maybe the reason I was turned inside out with emotions was partly hormonal. DUH! I finally thought to google "prolactin mood swings" and realized that a big drop in prolactin (such as when weaning or, I don't know, suddenly ceasing to take a medication that is artificially elevating your prolactin levels) is linked to mood swings and depression. Again, duh.
Third, a comment on Julie's post about weaning finally got through to me: Do what's best for your family, not your ego. And in fact, pumping had, in the end, become more about my ego than about Bat Girl's well being. I was so focused on the negative, on my failure to nurse, on my body's inability to produce enough milk--and on my heroic efforts to counteract those negatives--that I was losing sight of what I did have: a ridiculously happy, healthy, beautiful child. I've already missed too much of her first few months thanks to pumping. Now that I'm back at work, I don't want to spend one more minute of the limited time I have with her with that blasted machine.
Looking back, I don't regret having pumped as long as I did or tried as hard as I did. I know that I did the best I could for Bat Girl. But in the end, breastfeeding/giving her breastmilk will not be the most important thing I do for my child. It will not even be in the top 10. Being a good mother is about so much more than that.
I do want to write one more post about breastfeeding/pumping, to gather together all the links, advice, and knowledge I've accummulated over the past four months, just in case it'll help someone else. After that, I'm hoping we can all move on.